Just then they began calling the guests in for dinner. De Grave offered Isabelle his arm and then went to give me his other arm, as he normally did. This was the part I hated the most in every ball, because it was obvious de Grave would rather sit alone with Isabelle. He was just doing this to please my cousin.
As I was walking towards de Grave and Isabelle, I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder.
“That’s just like you, Vincent, to be escorted by two lovely ladies while I have to dine alone. Please be kind to a lonely bachelor, Miss Delacourt, and sit with me.”
Lord Gavinson made for a very merry host, and his wife, Lady Marguerite, was the consummate hostess, stopping by every table to greet each guest personally.
When she reached the table where Isabelle, de Grave, Windham, and I were seated, she checked suddenly, the smile on her face faltering ever so slightly. I noticed her face pale as she caught sight of de Grave. For the first time, I saw de Grave look disconcerted, his usually cool demeanor shaken. He suddenly became concerned with the contents of his wine glass.
Isabelle took no notice of this and asked Lady Marguerite where she had purchased her beautiful gown. This was enough to restore her good humor and she began to speak with Isabelle quite animatedly about a “darling little shop in Paris.”
But Lord Windham had noticed. He bent his head to speak with de Grave in a hushed whisper. I sipped my wine and tried very hard to appear deaf.
“Is she invited, Vincent?”
“I’m not sure.”
“When did you last see her?”
“Not since last year.”
Soon, Lady Marguerite bid us a good meal and left to speak with the guests at another table, but not without casting a dark look at de Grave. I noticed that though de Grave would not meet Lady Marguerite’s eyes, Lord Windham did, and he gave her a very haughty stare.